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ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT The Silver Tsunami The largest generation in U.S. history is beginning to reach retirement age. Can the Internet help seniors leverage their experience for the public good? By Frank Odasz / Lone Eagle Consulting T he Internet, now in the hands of 2 billion people globally, and mobile devices, in the hands of 6 billion, ofer the potential to provide unlimited, free educational opportunities that will unlock a vast well of untapped human capacity. Tis potential will become greater still as billions more are connected. Both Facebook and Google have developed strategies to connect the remaining population. Google has a balloonsand-satellite model (O3B), and Facebook is looking to simplify smartphone access and services. Figuring out how to stimulate the imaginative power of all global citizens will be the defning challenge of the modern age. Seniors aged 65 and over are the largest voting demographic in the United States. At 40 million strong, according to U.S. Census data, they are the most educated and wealthiest generation in human history. Leveraging the wisdom of these 40 million lifetimes could potentially save tens of billions of dollars in health care costs. In fact, if these 40 million seniors invest their time in meaningful activism, they could have an enormous impact in addressing the dramatic climatic, economic and demographic shifts that are causing disruptions at all levels. By 2015, there will be more citizens over 50 than under 15 for the frst time in history, according to AARP, an association for seniors. With less money going into retirement systems and seniors living decades longer than their parents, innovative, dramatic changes are needed. According to a new study by the Ewing Marion Kaufman Foundation, half of 60 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com all entrepreneurs are now over 50. As entrepreneurship is a key driver of economic growth, this should bode well for the United States and for world economic growth as well. In terms of job creation, innovation, and productivity, entrepreneurs drive growth. Many, if not most, retirees seek to remain in the workforce to supplement shrunken retirement savings, and the fexibility of telework would be ideal for them, particularly related to broadband health care innovations. Seniors range from those who have minimal capability to those who are in good health, educated and wealthy. Consider the new service opportunities for seniors helping seniors at the following three levels of capability to ensure that all needs are met afordably. THE GREATEST GENERATION (TIER ONE) Sixty is the new 40. People are living longer, and they are in much better health in their later years than people of previous generations were. Many are able to do whatever they want to do, often into their 80s and beyond. An estimated 20 million seniors are in this group. Most current leaders in all levels of government, corporations and foundations are seniors. Most seniors prefer to remain in the workforce longer than has been traditionally accepted, and the U.S. economy needs their expertise to stay in the workforce as trained replacements are in short supply. Te convenience of home-based telework makes this more viable than ever. Retirement in 2013 should be viewed as an | OCTOBER 2013